Red Flags & Triggers | Perspective


In the past ten days, February 14 – February 24, 2018, there has been a tremendous amount of news and first hand accounts following the slaughter of innocent students in Parkland, Florida that in turn launched an emotional national discussion about gun violence, gun rights, and gun control.

This national debate culminated in an extraordinary town hall meeting on Wednesday evening February 21, 2018, where the Parkland High School community was given the opportunity to pose tough questions about guns and gun control to lawmakers, and Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch. The event was hosted by CNN.

This in turn elevated the raging national argument to an even higher level. We learned on Friday February 23, 2018 that four Broward Country deputies remained outside Parkland High School during the massacre, refusing to enter the building to neutralize the attacker who was using an AR-15 assault rifle to slaughter former classmates. It was instead the teachers who displayed extraordinary heroism, several stepping between the shooter and the students to take the bullets and protect these teenagers, three teachers losing their lives. (This reminds me of Charlottesville, August 12, 2017 when the police stood by and did nothing while White Nationalists went crazy and turned violent against the protestors, one mowing down Heather Heyer.)

The lessons to be learned from the Parkland massacre are extensive. We have to break everything down into small fragments and process the multitude of takeaways so we can develop programs and methods to protect the millions and millions of other students for decades to come.

The only thing that never changes over time is human nature – good versus evil. So spotting and interpreting red flags and triggers and creating antidotes is critical.

The January 2018 call to the FBI from what appears to be a female distant cousin, or the like (“not by blood” is how it was phrased), is one of the most remarkable calls I’ve ever read. She points out numerous RED FLAGS, and marks each, as if to code it as a “dot” to be connected to other dots. Now, reading all these and lining them up, there does seem to be another angle to this horrific traumatic event.

What was the actual trigger that made Nikolas Cruz storm his former high school on Valentine’s Day 2018 and massacre 17 students?

Why February 14, 2018 and not a day in November 2017, or even December just before the holidays when Cruz would have been missing his mom so much. (He was initially living with another family, the Deschamps, but became violent when he lost his mother’s photo, and was forced to move out of that house into the Sneads. It seems like that would have been a trigger, but it wasn’t.)

I’m sure investigators have been asking themselves for the past 10 days what exactly triggered Cruz. They most likely have already pieced it together because they’ve been speaking with Cruz. We’re the ones who don’t know. And this makes me that much more intrigued. Knowing “why” is everything.

So Cruz was a very troubled teen. Years and years of documented evidence. One would think that getting thrown out of Parkland would have provoked Cruz. Or his mom’s death on November 1, 2017 would have caused him to become unglued and kill.

We’ve read in the news that Cruz would get violently upset about certain topics, but the articles never mentioned what the topics were. The January 911 caller points out that a main trigger for Cruz was discussing the $25,000 he would receive following his mother’s death. (Apparently he was to receive $800,000 when he turned 25.)

Cruz initially took money from his mom’s bank account shortly after her death to buy the many guns and knives he owned. But the 911 caller explained about the life insurance check that would soon arrive. She voiced strong concerns about the family Cruz had moved in with. Explaining how “…He also said, when Nikolas gets his money, his $25,000. This man will invest it for him.” The 911 caller referred to Mr. Snead’s plan to invest Cruz’ $25,000 s a “another flag.”

“He doesn’t know Nikolas from a hole in the wall. And I don’t know who he’s going to invest it with or what’s going to happen but I do know, and this is a fact, when you ask Nikolas for money, he goes up one rule and down another. He gets crazy, because he will not give anyone his money. Matter of fact, he thinks anything he [UI] the bank is all [h]is, you know, to hell with everybody else including his brother. So, and I have th-the, uh, man’s name who uh-I-we’ve, the family ad I have tried to call this gentleman and he refuses to return any phone calls, but I got his name and his address if you’d like it.”

“Yes, that’s the man’s supposed to be staying with. And um, an aunt of his has, had called him. Another woman who was taking care of Nikolas, uh, who has already spoken to him tried to call him. I tried to call him just to find out how Nikolas was and to make sure he understood the problems of this. he has. And he just doesn’t return my phone calls, which, if you’re going to help somebody and you know there’s family involved, at least return the phone calls and talk to them about it. Or, you know, return the phone call and say mind your own business. Yeah, something.”

So the 911 caller outlined red flags that were causing her great anxiety to the point she needed to have a clear conscience if Cruz “explodes” (I admire this girl so much). There was much talk about Instagram and the gun photos and his “I want to kill” statements. But the red flags that surprised me because the news didn’t necessarily cover them:

  • Cruz doesn’t have the mental capacity to properly reason through and solve problems or conflicts. “He’s only 18 but has the mental capacity of a 12 to a 14 year old.”
  • This $25,000 was of monumental importance to Cruz. He seemed to process it as the only thing that made him feel secure after his mother’s death. He didn’t have a high school diploma. Only a low paying job. No friends. No real family. So again, it seems this money was his anchor. His only real safety net.
  • The 911 caller implied that she didn’t trust Mr. James Snead. She seemed frightened about what might happen if he took Cruz’s money and invested it.

Investigators are surely looking into this. Mr. Snead’s version of events seems quite different from the 911 caller’s. “Didn’t notice anything,” … “Nikolas said his life had never been better.”

Yet something in fact triggered Cruz’ on February 14, 2018.

Maybe it really was ISIS. The 911 caller mentions her alarm over Cruz’s fascination with ISIS and his new love of Arabic. “..he-he dresses up like a ninja or a, or a-a-a ISIS guy.”

…I can totally picture ISIS wanting to massacre US children on Valentine’s Day.

Or perhaps it was the White Supremacist influence. Jordan Jereb of the Republic of Florida claimed Cruz was a member of their organization (but later walked this back). Initially however, he stated Cruz “participated in paramilitary drills” with them. Is Richard Spencer associated with ROF? Richard Spencer is definitely associated with hearts (Richard Spencer had a significant role in the Charlottesville violence on August 12, 2018 – Virginia is for Lovers). Hearts are definitely connected with Valentine’s Day.

I realize investigators rarely share what they learn with the public. But this time, I wish they would. The vast majority of us have consumed gigantic amounts of information on the subject. I’ve been researching red flags and triggers that lead to killings for many years, this in the hopes of learning techniques to defuse someone who goes ballistic wanting to commit a mass atrocity. Since it appears we can’t always rely on police, and there’s so many potential perpetrators out there, the more we know as individuals about red flags, triggers, and ways to defuse, the safer we’ll be.


Copyright 2017 – 2018. ALL Rights Reserved.


Eyes Wide Open

I’m sure we can all think of personal stories like this one, a fleeting chance encounter at an elevator that has an alarming negative ripple effect. But I’d like to share it in the hopes that it will serve as a strong reminder about how important it is to be more aware when out in public.

Eyes wide open…

My dad is getting older. His mind is very sharp despite his age, and even though he has a few worrisome conditions that would convince most not to drive, my father is extremely stubborn and blind to this reality, and fights like a demon to keep his independence and stay in control of his life. Oh, and drive himself wherever he wants to go, whenever he wants.

He’s physically impaired so this isn’t easy, which is a good thing, but it’s not the obstacle that it could be, and should be, unfortunately.

We four siblings (all living in different states, spread out across 600 miles) have battled for nearly five years to find an effective way for Daddy Dearest not to get behind the wheel. But my father is a retired attorney, blocks EVERY suggestion, no matter how reasonable. He’s still keeping up with his legal life. Spending eight hours a day researching cases then typing up arguments, sending off letters to “corrupt” leaders and business executives. He’s fiercely determined to get his way, and becomes vicious when your suggestions conflict with his opinions.

Needless to say, there have been thousands and thousands of hours spent strategizing about how to succeed with our mission to stop my father from driving.

Hire a driver. Let the air out of his tires. Remove a vital part so the car won’t start. Take away his keys. Hide his license. Call the police.

Endless combative discussions. We all end the conversations feeling bruised.

I eventually sent him a pass for the town’s dial-a-ride, this at the encouragement of the town police. Yes, the police did get involved when a woman waiting at the entrance of Bed, Bath & Beyond with her friend, claimed that my dad was reckless and nearly hit them, then took “forever” to get out of the car and trek into the store with his walker (he’s an amputee with a fake right leg and his left leg has extreme arthritis).

So the policeman arrived. The officer saw firsthand how physically impaired my dad was, took his license, left the car in the parking lot, and drove my father home. But en route, my father was suddenly back in the court room, litigating in front of a judge, and went for the officer’s jugular, so that by the time they arrived at my father’s condo at the Active Adult Community where he lives, the officer had handed back my dad’s driver’s license and apologized.

The officer called my sister who lives in town. Explained that because there was no record of any past driving offenses or complaints, and because he personally hadn’t been a witness and thus hadn’t seen my father drive recklessly, he could’t keep the license. But he did start a file on my dad, and record the incident, so that next time his license could be taken away. He also strongly cautioned us, urging us to do whatever we could to keep him from driving.

So we continued to argue and suffer and blame each other for ten more months. THEN, the Friday before Memorial Day, my dad fell in his condo and broke his hip. He had surgery and was in rehab for three months. My other sister confiscated his keys and hid his car in the parking deck beneath the complex.

We celebrated that our despair and frustration was finally over.

My father returned home in September. We arranged for a nurse to visit each day from 10:00a-1:00p. She drives him wherever he wants, or simply dashes out and picks up whatever he needs. The four of us felt at peace. Whenever he screamed about his missing car key, we tuned him out.

But one afternoon this past October, he became fixated on driving to the library 200 yards from his condo. Laser focus. Man on a mission. With sheer determination, he swiveled his wheelchair to the elevator, pushed himself inside, hit the “G” for garage and descended to the lower level. The door opened, he tried to push himself out and became stuck.

After a few minutes, a fifty-something man arrived at the elevator. My father poured on the charm and convinced the man to help him get to his numbered car spot. The car wasn’t there. My dad instructed the man to search for the car in the parking deck and provided details. The man eventually located the car. My father then asked him to open the gas cap and find the key taped inside. The man retrieved the hidden key and handed it to my father. He then headed off to visit his mother upstairs.

None of us had any idea about a hidden key.

Now we’re all back to extreme despair again, fuming mad.

It took an army of people five years to get my father out from behind the steering wheel. It was completely undone in five minutes by a nice, pleasant, good man who wasn’t more aware that he was stepping onto an unexpected landmine.

I can’t get this ordeal out of my mind. I’m wracking my brain wondering if I’ve ever been this unaware. Have I ever missed “See Something, Say Something” opportunities?

The FBI and Department of Defense spend billions of dollars protecting us, but one tiny critical moment of someone not being alert can upend massive amounts of painstaking work and effort that becomes the catalyst for disaster.

And how about the days and hours leading up to mass shootings…at churches, concerts, schools, Walmarts, movie theaters? I have to believe these deranged murderers gave a few red flags leading up to the massacres. But no one noticed. Or did they and just not mention anything?

Our awareness can make a HUGE difference. It will definitely save lives.

We have to practice every day.

Eyes wide open and attentive, all day, every day, whenever we’re out in public.